Dr. Rulon Stacey, PhD, President, University of Colorado Health (UCH) led a very informative discussion about how the UCH system is organized, the future of healthcare in this country, and how primary care will be the driving force behind the success of the emerging models.
Dr. Stacey explained the joint operating agreement (not merger) that was formed between Poudre Valley, UCH and the governing entity that is awaiting IRS approval as a 501(c)3 that will maintain affiliations with hospitals up and down the front range… from Memorial in Colorado Springs, to the various facilities in northern Colorado, to Sydney Regional Hospital in Nebraska and Ivanson Memorial in Wyoming. There is also an affiliation with the Colorado Health Medical Group (CHMG), a growing physicians group that is run primarily by physicians.
The premise behind this new arrangement is that systems such as UC Health, if operated properly and driven by PREVENTIVE care rather than sick care, will survive what is sure to be a tumultuous time in healthcare. For example, in European countries where the model is focused on prevention and improving population health, there are far fewer hospitals because people don’t need them as much. Dr. Stacey feels that UC Health is uniquely poised to be a success in such a market. Dr. Austin Bailey has been tasked with bringing more people into the CHMG, and Frank and Austin have advised UC Health to consider the benefits of collaboration with community doctors who do not wish to join CHMG.
Additionally, the University’s Trust currently has about 40K participants, and they are looking at expanding that by another 20K via CSU partnerships. If that happens, we will have an internal laboratory to experiment with payment models, population health efforts and other initiatives that can serve as a “how to” for the country. Dr. Stacey sees a redeployment of resources coming to primary care clinicians (away from specialists) in the coming years as the health care system finally understands the value of primary care.
Of course, there will always be a need for hospital beds, and UC Health’s basis for existence is that if they provide and support an patient-centered and cost-effective infrastructure, then the hospital beds will be theirs and not those of the competitors.
There was lively discussion about UPI’s role, the presence/role of primary care clinicians involved with the CHMG, HIT and data systems, workforce development, and making this shift away from fee-for-service palatable to specialty departments. Dr. Stacey provided insight and information to address these concerns and left us all wanting a more in-depth conversation! He welcomes comments, questions and concerns, and can be contacted at or on his cell 970.215.9805.